As we kick off our Investment Basics Summer Series, we’ll lead with the most important question of all: Why are you investing to begin with?
It’s common for advisers and investors alike to rush into talking terminology and leveraging logistics, without first setting the all-important stage. Maybe it’s human nature to want to get right to the task at hand, and why many financial folk seem far more comfortable discussing securities and market caps and leveraging and options … and far less enthusiastic about exploring your feelings and values and aspirations.
But your goals and your planning are where it should begin. Think of it like this: You wouldn’t expect your doctor to write a prescription without first diagnosing a condition. And she wouldn’t make that diagnosis without first asking you where it hurts and examining you accordingly.
Similarly, if you’ve got an investment portfolio but you’ve never explored what it’s intended to “treat,” how will you know when it’s doing a good job for you? If you and/or your adviser do not create planning based on your personal goals and revisit it periodically to ensure it is serving you as desired, then all the excellently structured low-cost, diversified, asset-allocated investment instruments in the world may never serve your needs.
For the rest of our summer series, we’re going to explore the investment basics in a helpful, how-to primer. These are the items that belong in the upper-right box (“Investments that Fit the Plan”) in Carl Richards’ excellent illustration above.
The rest of the illustration – YOUR goals, YOUR planning, YOUR ability to repeat it until it’s served its purpose – these are the building blocks that make up your and your family’s personal well-being. They are why you are investing.
Here’s how Richards describes it in his One-Page Financial Plan: “The best financial plan has nothing to do with what the markets are doing, nothing to do with what your real estate agent is telling you, nothing to do with the hot stock your brother-in-law told you about. It has everything to do with what’s most important to you.”
So, if you’ve not yet got your personal goals and customized financial planning firmly established – at least in your mind and better yet in print – then there is some prep work to be accomplished before we start thinking about stocks and bonds and where they belong.
Win a copy of Carl Richards’ new book, One-Page Financial Plan
As we mentioned in our Investment Basics introduction, send us an e-mail with a question or comment about today’s post, and you’ll be entered to win this week’s drawing for a copy of Richards’ One Page Financial Plan.
Happy summer reading!
Sage Serendipity: Say you’re heading to the beach or out for a round of golf. You slather on your #30 sunscreen and pat yourself on the back thinking “Great! I’m protected.” Think again. The Environmental Working Group, a Washington based consumer advocacy organization, released their Sunscreen Hall of Shame. Check the site before you purchase your next product. Here’s a list of their best tested sunscreens.